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Chile Above Ground

By Debra Meiburg MW

While the world turns its thoughts and good wishes to Chile as we wait anxiously for the safe rescue of the trapped miners, we thought it would be a good time to discuss Chilean wine and give you a glimpse into what these men and their families might be celebrating with!

Chile has some of the world’s most spectacular vineyards. Bounded by the Atacama desert, the Pacific Ocean, snow-capped Andes and southern ice fields, this is the only wine region where both cacti and snow are interspersed amongst vines.

As with most of the Americas, grapes were first planted in Chile by Catholic missionaries in the 16th century, followed by the Spanish conquistadors. These days, the United States is Chile’s largest market, followed by the United Kingdom, Canada and Japan. The country’s wines are highly successful in Hong Kong too because of their excellent value and consistent quality. They aren’t all inexpensive quaffers, with some, such as the Montes Alpha “M”, in the top-dollar bracket.

Chilean districts and producers can be tongue twisters, such the Aconcagua, Colchagqua, Panquehue or Cauquenes valleys.
The Aconcagua Valley (Ah-con-kah-gwa) is the warmest of Chile’s wine producing regions. Its production is limited to the estate of highly respected Viña Errazuriz, which was one of the earliest wineries established in Chile some 130 years ago.

A little closer to the cooling breezes of the Pacific Ocean is Chile’s youngest wine region, the Casa Blanca Valley, which specialized in white wines, particularly Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

Maipo Valley produces most of the red wine we see on the Hong Kong market. the city. And just south of Maipo is the Rapel Valley, which is home to the well-respected Colchagua (Kohl-cha-gwa) district.

Wine enthusiasts are not the only people to notice Chile’s vineyards. Famed international producers have invested heavily in Chile’s versatile climate. In 1988, Bordeaux’s Lafite Rothschild established a winery in Chile called Viña Los Vascos who produces classic old-world-style wine.

Mondavi, another well-known international player, linked up with the Errazuriz family to produce the delicious Seña. Alexandra Marnier-Laspostolle of Grand Marnier fame established Casa Lapostolle, and Spain’s Miguel Torres’ produces some of the finest wine from Chile with its Manso de Velasco.
Chile specializes in the classic red grape varieties: Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Chile has had particular success with its Merlot, so it came as quite a shock a few years ago to discover through DNA testing that Chile’s spicy Merlot wasn’t Merlot at all, but a little known variety called Carmenère. For a taste of this singular variety, try MontGras, Carmenère.

Comments 4 Comments for “Chile Above Ground”
  1. Ryan Reichert on 10.13.10 at 11:16

    Great article Debra. Very informative in just the right amount. I love Chilean wines … they’re some of the ones that I started on when getting into wine in the first place!

  2. information technology on 12.20.10 at 06:41

    My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!

  3. DingoDogg on 12.27.10 at 22:57

    Hola, ЎGracias! Ahora me irй en este blog cada dнa!


  4. Almir Neto on 01.04.11 at 09:00

    Some wines from Chile are already stored in my cellar and I’ve been enjoying Chilean wines in the last ten years. Almaviva, Clos Apalta and Montes M are great red wines that I like very much. I like the harmony of Almaviva (still young – 5 to 7 years old) and Steak Au Poivre. It is powerful enough to be in harmony with the Poivre sauce or with a pasta with white truffes. The marriage of Clos Apalta and Ravioli au Poireaux is also remarkable. Casa Silva Carmenere Gran Reserva is perfect to follow a Paella. Amayna Sauvignon Blanc is the white Chilean wine that I prefer to start a party or to offer together with a well prepared fish. Despite their high quality, prices are at least 50% lower than a good Bordeaux in Brazil. It does not mean these outstanding Chilean wines are as good as a Clos D’Estournel or L”Angelus, but they are not far away. For a social and non sophisticated event when it is better to offer an easy drink, we can find in Chile many good and very affordable wines, like Marques Casa Y Concha, Seña, Montes Alfa, just to mention a few of them.
    I hope my comments will help your followers to enjoy even more Chilean wines.

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